/ Technology

Won’t play my old games? I won’t buy Xbox One

Xbox controllers on the floor

With the recent launch of the Xbox One, gamers (including me) are crying foul of Microsoft’s alienation of Xbox 360 owners by excluding backwards compatibility. But is playing older games really that important?

After the launch hype subsided, we dissected Microsoft’s latest console and explained all you need to know about the Xbox One.

However, critics have pulled apart every aspect of the Xbox One launch; from the lack of games shown, to the muddied details about backwards compatibility and the ability to play pre-owned games.

How Microsoft handles these issues will surely determine whether I, and many others, will choose to upgrade to its latest console.

Is this backwards thinking?

The Xbox One appears to be focused on becoming an all-in-one entertainment box that rules your living room, rather than a dedicated gaming machine. And playing games is what consoles are all about, right? But what if you can’t play your existing games because they’re not supported?

Backwards compatibility means you can play any games or access any content from the previous generation gaming device. A great example is the PlayStation 2. Not only does it support games from the original PlayStation, but it also allows you to use original PlayStation accessories, such as memory cards and controllers.

The new Xbox One on the other hand, won’t support Xbox 360 games (discs or digital downloads) or accessories. The Xbox 360’s hardware is completely different to the Xbox One, so even though the new console is more powerful, running games developed for the Xbox 360 wouldn’t be possible without some serious investment from Microsoft.

Still, it annoys me that this option has been removed. I have no say in the matter. I suppose I could suck it up and have both consoles sat side-by-side. But not everyone has the shelf space or multiple AV ports to support this setup, and I think it’s unfair to expect this of gaming fans.

According to Microsoft, only 5% of players use new consoles to play games from the previous generation. And, in a recent interview, president of Microsoft’s Xbox division Don Mattrick said, ‘If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards’. So it seems the lack of compatibility doesn’t just stem from the Xbox 360’s different hardware – Microsoft doesn’t appear to believe that many people will use it.

Moving forwards, not backwards

The situation with Sony’s PS4 is slightly different. It won’t be backwards compatible with PS, PS2 or PS3 titles, but cloud-based gaming company Gaikai could offer a service that allows you to stream old PlayStation games on your PS4. However, questions still remain about how much you’d have to pay (if anything) for streaming or downloading your old games.

Despite going for a wider appeal and targeting a broader audience, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft succeeds with its all-in-one vision. As it stands, I won’t be buying an Xbox One when it launches later this year. I don’t like being told what games I can and cannot play.

Is backwards compatibility a deal-breaker for you? If you were head of Microsoft’s gaming division, how would you approach the problem?

Would the lack of backwards compatibility put you off the Xbox One or PS4?

Yes (62%, 211 Votes)

No (27%, 90 Votes)

I'm not sure (11%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 338

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George S says:
29 May 2013

Just an FYI, MS specifically stated that the reveal was about the Hardware and 90% of the information about the games etc. would be revealed at E3. That is 3 weeks away.

Your article is mostly rumours.

Also you used the PS2 as an example of something that has backwards compatibilty, but the PS3 did not let you play PS1 games without paying for them again and no compatibility for PS2 games.

The Xbox 360 could play a handful of Xbox games. The SNES couldn’t play NES games, the N64 couldn’t play SNES games, the Gamecube couldn’t play N64 games. It is nothing new and i bet if i come back in a year or so’s time then you will have changed you tune a little.

We have very little info on the new consoles, hell we haven’t even seen Sonys yet, so lets all wait until E3 and then you can b***h and moan all you want.

Have a nice day!

SONY says:
29 May 2013


No surprise, we have the best wizards in the industry.
We won’t let you down, more megatons are coming at E3

To minimize racism and be more ‘western’ look & feel, Mr. Cerny will be there to announce more details on how powerful and easy the PlayStation® 4 has become. More genuine smiles too, no more meth-face appearance, we promise. We’re better than ever!

Incredible Asian tech for life, amazing awaits.



Massacred says:
29 May 2013

Just ignore this guy, he goes through N4G and posts this on every article that holds the Xbox One in an even slightly negative light.

Grow Up Sir (Sony)


Hi George,

A “handful of Xbox games” for the Xbox 360? By last count via the European update in 2007, the list is at 476 games.

We used the example of the PS2 that has backwards compatibility because not only does it support older games, but some of the older accessories as well. Also, the PS3 initially could play PS2 and PS games with the inclusion of the Emotion Engine chip. But later models of the PS3 removed this chip and an additional graphics chip which made PS2 games unplayable. Most PS games were still supported.


I couldn’t really care less whether I can play old games or not on a newer console.
Eventually those old games would become boring or obsolete anyway, so it would just be a transition phase, for which I could use my old console if I really wanted to play them.

However, my biggest gripe with Microsoft is the way they insist on a gold membership to use things like Lovefilm, Netflix and NowTV. If I already paid for a subscription for those services, why on earth should I pay Microsoft as well?

Also, what about this paying Microsoft to use 2nd hand games on the new Xbox one rumor? That’s outrageous. All my Xbox hardware and games is going up on eBay, I’ve have enough!

George S says:
29 May 2013

Hi Ryan,

This is a general rant, i am a little p****d by all the haters for both consoles.

I don’t know enough about either to make a comment yet and i have watched the launch of both.

Not sure where people are getting their info from.

See, by the time that update came out, I couldn’t give a toss about the original Xbox games, as I had already bought loads for the new console, prolly why i glazed over that.

Good point on the PS3, except they gave up on it after a while, your point not mine.

What games are you likely to want to keep and play again from the Xbox 360? Just out of interest.

In 7-8 years i have played most of them, and will trade them all in for money off the new shiny console, with its new games that i haven’t played before.

I had a PS2, an Xbox, and a Gamecube. Where are they now? Who cares, i don’t?

Also which do you plan to buy at the moment? The PS4, which we haven’t even seen, with a few games that we know about? or the Xbox One with also a few games that we know about, but I have seen the console (its ugly, but my Sky box doesn’t get me aroused by its shape).

Also the PS4 can’t play PS3 games (that we know about, from the very little info so far), so are you forgoing both consoles?

It seems your article is just a rant. No real info in there. In fact your reply to my first comment had more facts in than your original article.

Your article started “But is playing older games really that important?”, at that point I wanted to read the article, by the end I wish I hadn’t, as you can see it made me angry. LOL

Again sorry about the rant. Discussions about the consoles is fine, but with the tidbits of info we have so far, it is incredibly hard to make a decision as to which will be better, or that MS and Sony are ruining the games industry.


Thanks for the feedback, George. My blog post here is based on my personal experiences and annoyances as an Xbox 360 owner and long time gamer. Which? Convo encourages intelligent and informative debate amongst people and I think this post has been successful achieving that so far.

Most of the info I am seeing for both consoles is via dedicated gaming news outlets and websites that I personally trust. I wouldn’t report on something that I couldn’t factually back up. However, there is a lot of spin out there and it can be hard sometimes to sift through the quagmire of information to find the truth.

The games that I would like to keep playing on the X360 are Xbox Live Arcade games or games that I have invested serious hours in which I have yet to finish. I own around 40 arcade games on Xbox Live and enjoy them because they don’t require a serious time investment. I can receive my gaming fix in as little as 15 minutes and sometimes, that’s all I need. In terms of older consoles, I still own a SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, Xbox, and PS2. As you can understand, my entertainment unit is getting quite crowded and I was hoping that I could at least remove one console with the Xbox One.

As for forgoing both consoles? It could be a possibility. Despite starting off as a console gamer (back in that days when I owned an Atari 2600), my gaming roots are deeply intertwined with PC gaming. Maybe it’s time to head back via that route and start investing money back into my Steam account.

But you’re absolutely correct – it can be hard to make a decision based purely on the information that is currently available. I guess, only time will tell.

George S says:
29 May 2013

It has indeed sparked a conversation. I guess it has achieved what was intended.

I have a lot of Arcade games as well, it will be a shame to lose them, but I will have shiny new ones to play at the end of the day, so i think i can get over that quick enough. Again not 100% sure there is going to be no compatibility, another reason to wait until E3.

I am an Xbox fan at the end of the day, but i am very much open to both consoles. I just want to get more information before deciding which one to fork out £600 on (as was posted for the Xbox on Amazon.co.uk earlier today). Zavvi have a fixed price currently of £399 for the xbox, which they say won’t change if you pre-order through them (it is free to do that). I have also heard rumours of a subsidised subscription version, which as i currently pay for Xbox Live is fine with me.

I set my sights pretty low for the consoles, as i have been disappointed in the past. All I wanted from the new Xbox is better hardware spec and the ability to keep my Gamerscore. Both of which were achieved by Microsoft. Not sure if this is the case with Sony, but would hope it was.

I don’t use the TV or Entertainment aspects that much, i have Netflix and Lovefilm, but watch these on my tablet. I have noticed a lot of people getting angry about it, and i don’t understand why. I think it is pretty cool that my console can do more than play games, it is certainly better than the original Xbox.

There are so many rumours flying around that it is hard to work out what is true and what isn’t. Even trusted sources get it wrong. Until i hear come out of a Microsoft/Sony exec, then it is hearsay as far as i am concerned.

I have been on Forums where people have declared pure hate for the new consoles, despite having relatively little to go on and that is pretty stupid.

It would have been nice to have backwards compatibility, but it is still quite uncommon amongst games consoles, as there is no point dwelling on the past. My cassettes don’t fit in my CD player, nor do my VHS work with DVD/Bluray. It is just something that life throws at you unfortunately.

I would be a PC gamer, but i am trying to move away from PCs altogether. I recently bought a Tablet and haven’t used my PC in months as a result. Plus the costs involved tend to be quite high, i have discussed this with people in the past and they come up with various arguments that have yet to change my mind. Plus i am not that bothered about Graphics and the such, it is all about Gameplay, realism p****s me off, that is why i preferred Saints Row to GTA4.

The Steam box seems interesting, but need more info on that as well.

I will monitor your posts from now on, as i like a good debate, so expect to hear from me again.

Have a nice day.


Ace Killa 08 says:
29 May 2013

Ryan your living in the past,

You will really hold out and also say xbox one is inferior just because the lack of Backwards compatible due to Arcade games. It’s like old PC games that don’t run on Win 8 or 7 since the OS made changes in its architecture and your NOT going to upgrade since it can’t play a few games I personally care about.. It happens and technology does not keep up with old models of systems. Phones do it, tablets, software developers and other companies.

Your argument to stay behind with technology and not give the new one a chance is your decision. But here’s an example, your decision to stay in Windows XP (xbox) will not allow you to play the latest games that will have more features and potential with the latest OS 7 or 8 (Xbox One), just for your affinity in an old OS will tie you back. But it happens that’s your decision. You overlook one feature for all the other features the console and future games will provide.

Pennies over dollars, that’s what you worry about.

Ace Killa 08 says:
29 May 2013

also FYI I’m taking this as an IT stand point.

I work in an IT department and I’ve experience the customer refusal to move to another software or OS due to it being outdated. The change is frowned upon, but as a business you can only hang on to old software for so long. Newer and improved software and hardware always gets produced and changes come with them and you do have to adapt to it. If not your business will never grow.


I was thinking about your point Ace Killa on you can’t play Windows 7 games on your XP computer. But isn’t it more about whether your Windows 7 PC can run your XP games?

I’ve just bought a new Android phone, and I’d be a bit miffed if I couldn’t play all the games I bought on the Google Play store on my more powerful phone. I know the technology is completely different with console games and they’re developed ‘to the metal’, so it is a much more complex ask for console manufacturers.

However, note, I’m not overly fussed about Backwards Compatibility. I was concerned about it last generation, but found I didn’t really play PS2 games. I have loads of PS3 games now but I’ll just keep both consoles until I’ve had my fill. I do have a huge amount of sympathy from Ryan’s POV though.

Tom says:
30 May 2013

I just cant see you not purchasing a new console because of BC seems like a joke, when you can play your old games on your old console. I buy a new system for the newer games, graphics and features…

dadov2 says:
30 May 2013

@Ace Killa 08: Look after the pennies and the pounds (dollars) look after themselves!